cover image The List

The List

Martin Fletcher. St. Martin’s, $25.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-312-60692-3

In NBC special correspondent Fletcher’s satisfactory first novel, Viennese Jewish refugees Edith and Georg Fleischer build their new life in 1945 London while Zionist revolutionaries plot an assassination that could jeopardize all asylum seekers in Britain. Living in a Hampstead boarding house, the Fleischers are expecting their first child while waiting to hear news of their relatives (most of whom perished in concentration or death camps) and find out whether they can stay in Britain. Edith’s cousin Anna arrives, but her time at Auschwitz has changed her almost beyond recognition. After Edith makes a speech at a meeting about repatriation petitions, Georg becomes a target for retribution. The mysterious Ismael, an Egyptian Arab living at the boarding house, steps in to protect Georg, beginning an unlikely alliance. Meanwhile, in Palestine, the Lehi—a group considered to be freedom fighters, or terrorists, take your pick—plot to force out the British and open the border to any Jews who wish to enter. There are jarring shifts in point of view and shallow descriptions, but the novel’s warmth and humor will have readers rooting for the Fleischers and the neighbors who, in the wake of horror, become their new family. (Oct.)